While the Maharashtra government has decided to treat students of madrasas as out-of-school children if they are not being taught maths, science and social sciences, the management running madrasas in Pune are divided on their opinion about the decision.
Madrasa Jameatus Swalehat, which claims on its official website to be the first girls madrasa in Pune city with complete Aalima course (graduation equivalent of Islamic theology), is against any kind of government interference. “We have a total of 400 students of which 200 study in a residential madrasa. These girls’ parents are against formal education and hence they are being sent here for residential schooling. We also get girls who want to run away from their house, those who don’t want to study, etc,” said Qari Mohammad Idris Ansari, its chairman.
“We teach them Quran. Apart from this, we teach them English, Arabic and Urdu. Their day starts at 5 am with morning prayer and ends with evening prayers. When they pass out, they go on to teach Arabic and Quran to students. Their parents do not want them to have any other jobs, that is why they are sent here. We strongly oppose any government interference. There are schools in every nook and corner. Hence, it is a parent’s prerogative where they want their child to be sent,” said Qari Mohammad.
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The madrasa run by Kudratulla Beg in Kondhwa caters to only orphan Muslim girls and actually is favourable to the government’s idea of introducing formal subjects in curricula.
“The madrasa-cum-orphanage was started in 2009 for girls. Currently, we have 110 girls in the orphanage and 900 girls in total as day-scholars. We teach them maths, science, social sciences and English as per the state board syllabus and make these students give Class 10 exams externally,” said Beg. “Their day starts at 5 with morning prayers. Between 10.30 and 4 pm, we give them formal education ending with evening prayers,” he said .
Beg currently gets funds through donations but is open to the proposal of getting funds from the government for teaching maths, science, English and social sciences. “This will definitely be a positive step and I think also important as getting formal education will help them get jobs in future,” he said.
Mufti Ayaaz Misbahi, administrator of Jamia Quadriya in Mithanagar Kondhwa, which has 129 students(94 girls, 35 boys), said the madrasa only provided religious education and that they would like to include formal education too but failed to do so for lack of infrastructure.
“Most of our students come from poor families although we have some students from middle-class families too. I believe what the the state government is doing is wrong. In my opinion, one can’t claim that the only education is the one being imparted by government recognised schools. By teaching Quran and Quranic teachings, we are also trying to groom righteous citizens. Yes, it’s true that there’s a need to provide them modern education and computer education too, but most of the madrasas are already doing it. Those which aren’t doing are handicapped by the lack of resources. Those who are not willing to take government funds are only are apprehensive that if they accept government funds, it might interfere in their religious teachings. If the government creates a confidence that nothing of that will happen, I don’t think anybody will resist,” said Misbahi.
A teacher working with Kondhwa-based Baitul Uloom, said that as a policy, the madrasa had included both modern and religious education in its schedule. “Our students also learn languages, sciences and computers along side the religious teaching. We think it’s important for the messengers of Islam to be be able to live competently and earn respectably,” he said.